Children and Mental Health Services — [Mark Pritchard in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:30 pm on 16th July 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Andrew Griffiths Andrew Griffiths Conservative, Burton 2:30 pm, 16th July 2019

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. During that time, babies become children, children become adults, and the problem gets worse and worse. I do not deny the Government’s commitment and determination in this, but it is just not happening quickly enough.

The other thing we need to bear in mind is that, although we have heard about CAMHS and the pressures on the workforce, a huge number of brilliant voluntary sector organisations are also delivering these services. I am very lucky to have in my constituency an organisation called Youth Emotional Support Services, which delivers in schools in Uttoxeter, as well as Burton and District Mind. There are so many great organisations. However, even in my own patch, I have heard that a tendering process is currently going on in which the bar is so high, the requirements so difficult and the boxes to tick so numerous that third sector organisations simply feel unable to compete. The challenge is that the tender to provide the facilities goes to a private company, and the experience, dedication and benefits of those voluntary sector organisations are lost.

I was staggered to learn that some of the children’s mental health charities operating in my constituency are providing 85p of frontline services for every pound they receive. That is tremendous value, representing help for young people, and few businesses could get anywhere near matching that. However, the tender process that we go through makes it impossible for voluntary sector organisations to compete. I hope the Minister will look into that; I will be raising with her my particular issue in Staffordshire.

I think the Minister recognises that in this place, we are simply voicing the real concerns and fears of parents up and down the country. Like a snowball coming down a hill, young people’s mental health is under greater pressure than ever before, and as a result they are self-harming, committing suicide, or getting themselves into a situation in which they will, in future years, suffer from greater mental health disorders, addiction, and so many other long-term problems. I hope that the Minister will go away feeling that she has great support across this House for her campaign to get even more resources and focus on mental health services, particularly for children, because quite frankly our children’s lives depend on it.